How we stayed in touch with our stakeholders virtually in 2020
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic gave an enormous digitalisation boost to Germany’s economy. According to an August 2020 study by the Ifo-Institute, 55 percent of German companies pushed ahead with digital transformation during the crisis. For instance, 59 percent of the companies surveyed said they would not necessarily hold face-to-face conferences in the future. What’s more, 73 percent of the companies that increasingly relied on working from home during the pandemic plan to continue allowing their employees to work from home.
As a digital company, Scout24 relied on state-of-the-art IT infrastructure and digital solutions long before the coronavirus crisis. Most employees were already using videoconferencing in their day-to-day work before March 2020 – not least as a means of integrating the various company locations and enabling mobile working. That being said, we did take a step towards further digitisation during the pandemic. “As a result of social-distancing measures, we had to be creative and quickly come up with new formats for keeping in touch with all stakeholders,” Sharia Rahim explains. Together with his colleagues, the head of Scout24’s Events Team has planned and implemented numerous virtual events and supported specialist departments in the implementation of their digital-only events, including digital customer events. It was particularly important to maintain – or even step up – seamless contact with customers.
“As a result of the social-distancing measures, we
had to quickly come up with new ideas in order
to keep in touch with all stakeholders.”
It is Scout24’s and ImmoScout24’s ambition to provide customers with market expertise and data and to support them in the best possible way – even, and especially, in challenging times such as the coronavirus crisis. That is the purpose of customer events at which internal and external experts provide information on the most important topics in the real estate sector. A total of eleven digital events took place in 2020. At three ImmoGipfel specials, for example, the main topics were the development of the real estate market during the pandemic and the sharing of agent commission. The formats were a great success. “On average, each digital customer event in 2020 had around 525 attendees. In 2019, there had only been 36 attendees. This means that the number of people attending virtual formats was around 17 times higher than the number attending face-to-face events,” Sharia Rahim says.
Digital internal events are informative and promote team spirit
Internal events at Scout24 also almost exclusively took place digitally in 2020. After all, at the beginning of the pandemic, all of the roughly 800 employees were working from home – their health and safety has been the top priority at all times. To maintain contact with them despite the circumstances and inform them about important company news, Scout24 has moved its regular town hall meetings to the web. Five town halls were held in 2020, four of which were virtual. At the end of each town hall, employees were able to ask their questions as usual using a digital conference tool. We also introduced a whole range of new internal events during the coronavirus crisis. It was Sharia Rahim’s team that came up with the idea for the Scouts4Scouts initiative. “During the event series, employees were able to share their various talents, hobbies and preferences with their colleagues – for example, at a virtual photography workshop or a cooking class.” The highlight at the end of the year was a virtual Christmas party with a live DJ session and entertaining shows. “Thanks to our state-of-the-art conference technology, we were able to celebrate, talk to each other and stay close – without breaking any social-distancing rules. Having said that, I’m already looking forward to hopefully being able to raise a glass with my colleagues in real life again at the 2021 Christmas party,” says Sharia Rahim with a smile.
Transparency through virtual dialogue with the capital market
The investor relations team also had to reschedule during the pandemic. Due to the contact restrictions, all investor meetings have taken place in virtual sessions since mid-March 2020. The Scout24 AG Annual General Meeting in June 2020 was also an entirely virtual event. The reports and presentations of the Supervisory Board and Management Board were broadcast live on Scout24 AG’s website. Registered shareholders were able to follow the entire Annual General Meeting via a secured Internet service. In December, Scout24 also held a virtual Analyst Day, at which the Management Board provided information on the Scout24 Group’s business development and future prospects. Thanks to the digital events, we were able to continue to maintain a continuous and transparent dialogue with the capital market.
“Digital events will continue to have a permanent
place in our event calendar in future.”
So how would Sharia Rahim sum up the past ten months or so of almost exclusively virtual events at Scout24? “We’ve got to know many of the benefits of digital formats – and found that they can sometimes be just as impactful, interactive and fun as face-to-face events. Digital events will therefore have a permanent place in our event calendar in future. Nevertheless, meetings in person at events and face-to-face discussions will continue to be of great importance to us and our business.”
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